We all recently learned that my friend’s long-lost twin brother Earl arrived in Berkeley for a visit after the twins were reunited thanks to my friend’s Quirky Berkeley fame. I have previously posted about the test my friend devised to verify the identity of the man claiming to be his twin and on that man’s successful response to the test.
Earl brought a couple photos of my friend and him as boys:
He also brought photos of some of his favorite Flint haunts:
In the first few minutes that I saw them together, I noticed that my friend called Earl “Loki” and that Earl called my friend “Odiin.”
I had to ask. Do you blame me?
Norse gods. A neighbor named the boys Odin and Loki when they were eight. I don’t think that the naming was meant to flatter. The names stuck.
Odin was associated with healing, death, the gallows, battle, frenzy and the runic alphabet. Don’t mess with Odin!
While treated as a nominal member of the gods, Loki occupies a highly ambivalent and ultimately unique position among the gods, giants, and the other kinds of spiritual beingsthat populate the pre-Christian Norse religion. In the tales, Loki is portrayed as a scheming coward who cares only for shallow pleasures and self-preservation. He’s by turns playful, malicious, and helpful, but he’s always irreverent and nihilistic.
This could – but won’t – develop into a rumination on dystheism, the belief that god, a god, or a goddess may be malevolent, hence trickster gods like Loki.
When the boys graduated from high school, my friend left Detroit and Michigan for good. Earl (or should I say Loki?) left Detroit and got a line job at the Fisher plant in Flint.
Earl left with a modest severance that the United Auto Workers had been able to negotiate and took a job at Auto World.
Auto World was an indoor theme park built to make Flint attractive to tourists. It opened in July 1984 and closed during its first year. When locals visited Auto World, once was enough, and it just didn’t draw from outside the community.
When Auto World shut down, Earl was unemployed for a few months. He then hooked up with Michael Moore, who was in production for Roger and Me. Earl worked for Moore for almost three years. He claims that you can briefly see him in a Detroit News photograph in the scene with the Beach Boys singing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”
He then got lucky and landed a job at Flint Engine South, where he worked until retiring in 2015.
That’s what I have learned about Earl so far.
Earl’s retired now. He has lived in Flint since he was 17. What next?
What’s next as in right now is – Earl is going with my friend to a shade tree mechanic in Vallejo on account of said shade tree mechanic has a tremendous eye for antiques and had called my friend about a Raymond Loewy hoop chair for sale by someone who didn’t have a deep appreciation of how valuable the chair is.
My friend stumbled on a 1953 Loewy dinette set last August.
Earl, like my friend, is a big fan of Danish modern design. This is Earl’s living room back home in Flint:
On his flight to San Francisco, Earl read/dabbled in the twin studies of Hermann Werner Siemens. Siemens’ invention of the twin study is not widely acknowledged, almost certainly on account of his unfortunate support for Nazi eugenic policies.
The point being – here Earl and my friend had been separated since the mid 1960s and yet both had gravitated towards Danish modern design, which surely was not present in their childhood home.
After Vallejo they were headed to Davis where the same shade tree mechanic told them that they would find a preliminary sketch of “The Punishment of Loki.”
It was an 1890 painting by Irish painter James Doyle Penrose. This doesn’t strike me as a great fit with Danish modern design, but good always does well with good, style aside. Or almost always. Plus – Loki seems to be an important icon for them.
They are clearly enjoying their time together. I asked my friend what he had to say about this time with his twin.